Friday, November 13, 2009

Blog Anniversaries and Book Sales

Yesterday at work, I helped a friend and colleague get a blogsite set up--an appropriate activity as I approach the one year anniversary of starting my blogs (Nov. 12 for my Theology blog and Nov. 17 for this blog). It was also about one year ago that I created a website.

I'd been meaning to create a website for years, and I'd been longing to create a blog for almost that long. I had all the regular worries: being the victim of some strange cyberstalker, posting things that would embarrass me later, never being able to get a job again. So far, none of my fears have come to pass. On the contrary, it's been an overwhelmingly positive experience: I've written more than I ever would have thought possible, I've trained myself (again) to observe the fine textures of daily life, I've made connections with poets and other writers I admire.

Plus, I've learned new skills: how to work a digital camera and how to use blog/website creation tools.

Before creating my own blogs and websites, I thought about websites and blogs primarily as a tool to promote writing that I had already done. I wanted to create a website so that when I have a book-length collection of poems published, I have some promotion architecture already in place.

I didn't think about how much blogging would prompt me to write anew. There's not only the blog post itself, but the ideas that I capture and sometimes return to, as I write poems. There are the goals that I post, and the entries where I assess how I'm doing.

I have promotion on the brain, as I prepare my book-length manuscript to send to WordTech Communications. I really like their books, and their reading period is now open. They expect to sell 250 copies of a book within the first year, and they expect writers to promote their books.

I have no problem with that. When Pudding House published my chapbook, I did everything I could to promote that book, and I sold almost 100 copies through my efforts that first year. That was before I had a blog or a website. My secret weapon? My mother's Christmas card list. The same people who sent me graduation presents and wedding presents were willing to buy my book!

I think that blogsites can work similarly. I've bought many books of poetry because I like the blog of the writer. The blog can introduce poems, and the same themes that run through poems are likely to run through a blogsite. A website is a good spot to collect all the relevant information, but I don't find an artist's voice shines through in a website, the way it does in a blog.

I love being a poet because I have all sorts of ways of getting my poetry out into the world, and reaching new potential readers. A few weeks ago, a harpist that I met at an artist's retreat at Lutheridge (the Create in Me retreat) called to ask if she could use one of my poems as her Christmas card. I happily agreed, as long as she provided my contact information so that her Christmas card list could be in touch with me, if they were interested in knowing more about my work.

The monks at Mepkin Abbey have notecards for sale. I wonder how much it would cost to create some sort of artwork that featured my poem and have a notecard created. Hmmm. Something else to sell at poetry readings. I've read about visual artists who have much, much cheaper prints and cards to sell, since most of us can't afford the original painting.

Happily, most people can still afford a book of poems. But there are so many other ways to reach readers. Some cost only time, like blogging. Others require more of a financial investment. I wonder what else is out there that I haven't thought about or tried yet.

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